Leighton couple Paul and Dee Bradley are justifiably proud of their sporty son Alex, who graduates from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, next weekend with a degree in business administration.
The strapping lad - who has an older brother, Craig – is captain of the Duhawks college soccer squad and is credited with playing a key role in the team’s recent run of national success.
In fact the six footer is so popular in his adopted town that former college vice president and distinguished local businessman Jack Wertzberger described him to the LBO as “an oustanding young man who has made a significant contribution to life at Loras College.”
He added: “Alex has a true gift of friendship and many in the Dubuque community have commented to me on the help he has volunteered and the courtesies he has extended.”
Prison officer Paul, 58, said they always knew their talented boy would do well at sport.
“He showed a flair from an early age,” Paul recalls. “He started playing football when he was about seven and was a sports ambassador while he was at Vandyke Upper School.”
Alex went on to play for the Hitchin and Luton Elite Boys Academy, MK Dons, Stevenage and Watford.
He and his brother Craig, an electrican, have always had a healthy sibling rivalry, although Alex was known as Big Bradders when they went to gym together.
Their aunt Julia married Dubuque businessman Scott Theisen and it was after visiting them that Alex decided to make the move to the States. He says playing American college athletics wasn’t something he’d imagined for himself and it took him a while to feel comfortable.
But once he’d made the commitment, he was impressed by the high standard, the family culture and the Americans’ insatiable appetite for sport – even at high school level.
He says: “In England you could go to the biggest high school national final and no-one would know about it, it’s not televised, it’s just your family and friends who come to watch. Here thousands of people go to high school football games. Our soccer team plays a Division One team every year and we get to win most of the time.”
He’s now hoping to find a job in the country which has given so many opportunities.